MLB Analytical Angles 9/23/16
Thursday’s slate includes 14 games total and once again looks like a great slate to go heavy on cash games. None of the most expensively priced pitchers are all that enticing which means spending down at the position is the preferable play. This will lead to a substantial amount of salary available to roster high-floor hitters. Tournaments should be interesting as well with only three offenses implied to score 5.0-plus runs (so nearly all other offenses are going to be considered contrarian).
Anyways, without further ado, here are some individual hitters worth rostering tonight:
Note: All prices are based on FantasyDraft salaries unless otherwise specified
Manny Machado, Orioles, $9,600 – The chalk on Friday is no doubt going to be the Orioles at home against Shelby Miller…and rightfully so. This season, the Orioles rank fourth in wOBA against RHP as a whole and only Mark Trumbo has produced a superior wOBA against the handedness than Manny Machado. Although Trumbo is certainly in play in this matchup, he is more of a boom-or-bust type tournament option and on the non-preferred side of the platoon split against Miller (which we’ll get to in the next tidbit). Meanwhile, Machado is as steady as they come and is slashing .290/.335/.550 against the handedness with 31 HRs. Sure lefties have produced a wOBA 85-percentage points higher against Miller but righties have still slashed a respectable .282/.339/.447. Combine these numbers with a 6.21 road ERA from Miller along with a negative league shift in this game and a long day (or short?) should be expected for the Diamondbacks’ starter.
Chris Davis, Orioles, $9,000 – Lefties are the preferable play against the aforementioned Miller as they have produced a whopping .420 wOBA against him this season. Miller’s 6.86 K/9 versus RHHs is mediocre but the 5.66 K/9 against LHHs is well below-average. If he isn’t going to miss a powerful bat like Davis, then look for the slugger to hit one a long way. Davis has only hit .224 against RHP this year so he’s only worth rostering when a long ball is probable. My favorite time to project a bomb is against a player susceptible to the handedness who also does not miss bats. This is one of those games and Davis’ team is implied to score the most runs (5.7) of any team on the slate.
Brian Dozier, Twins, $10,800 – After hitting 13 HRs in August, Brian Dozier has followed that up with a nine HR month of September thus far. In fact, Dozier is slashing a ridiculous .355/.417/.763 this month so even a matchup against a respectable opponent (James Paxton) shouldn’t defer you from rostering him. Dozier has excelled against opposing left-handers to the tune of a .302/.377/.667 slash line, .364 ISO and .426 wOBA this season. In his last start, Paxton flirted with a no-hitter for a while and isn’t a pitcher to actively target against. With that being said, Dozier is just a supreme talent and is absolutely en fuego right now, so feel free to roster him as a one-off in all formats.
Christian Yelich, Marlins, $9,600 – Even though opposing starter Matt Wisler has displayed significant improvement against LHHs this season, retiring them is still his Achilles Heel. Lefties have still posted a wOBA 33-percentage points higher than righties against Wisler…and he has allowed a career .370 wOBA to LHHs. With that being said, all of the Marlins left-handers are in play to some extent, but Christian Yelich is clearly the best/safest of the bunch. In a game with an 8.5 run over/under, the Marlins are listed as -126 favorites, and that’s presumably more of an endorsement for the offense than Andrew Cashner. The most telling of all statistics in this matchup is Wisler’s 23.8-percent line drive rate allowed to LHHs. On the other hand, Yelich has produced a 23.5-percent line drive rate against the handedness. Frozen ropes off the bat of Yelich are not only probable but they are to be expected.
Robinson Cano, Mariners, $9,300 – Gas can Kyle Gibson draws an awfully tough matchup against a very left-handed Mariners team that both rips right-handers and is getting a lot of love from Vegas. Only the Orioles (5.7) and Astros (5.0) are implied to score more runs and the entire offense will enjoy a positive park shift in hitter-friendly Target Field. While Cano’s .235 AVG against Gibson in 17 ABs is nothing to write home about, he’s put five balls in play for an average exit velocity of 96.4mph. Since Gibson has allowed a .333/.392/.512 slash line, .386 wOBA and 33.2-percent hard hit rate to LHHs, the fact that Cano has smoked him should not be seen as an outlier. As the sample size continues to grow, Cano should continue to hit him harder, and the likelihood of success increases on the road as opposed to his extremely pitcher-friendly home park. Lock and load Cano in cash games.
Kyle Seager, Mariners, $8,400 – One left-handed Mariner is simply not enough, and instead of going with Seth Smith or Adam Lind who are likely to get pinch-hit for later in the game, Kyle Seager is my preference for complementing Cano. Quietly, Seager is sporting a hefty .393 wOBA against RHP this year and is slashing .309/.394/.547. The two numbers that really jump off the page are his 25.2-percent line drive rate and 40.0-percent hard hit rate. On a per-dollar basis, Seager is actually the better play than Cano, but both can and should be rostered in head-to-heads, double-ups and 50/50s against a subpar opponent.
Freddie Freeman, Braves, $10,400 – Death, taxes and Freddie Freeman producing fantasy points every time he starts are the three surest things in life. Freeman literally has not goose egged since the beginning of August and he is actually working on a streak of three consecutive games with 11-plus fantasy points heading into Friday (including two consecutive games with a stolen base). Not only does Freeman lead the league in line drive percentage (29.3-percent) but he’ll square off against a pitcher (Andrew Cashner) allowing a 26.1-percent line drive rate to his side of the plate. Really no other analysis is necessary but Cashner has allowed a .288/.383/.528 slash line and .384 wOBA to LHHs. This is an elite matchup and Freeman should be considered the number one overall individual hitter on the slate.
Chris Carter, Brewers, $6,600 – Since Anthony DeSclafani has only allowed a .238 wOBA to RHHs in 2016, some will write off Chris Carter. However, at this price point, he absolutely is worth a roster spot in tournaments. This is a pure price play because his skill set stretches far beyond the cost. 24 of Carter’s 36 HRs this season have come off of righties and 16 of those 24 have been hit off of the handedness in Miller Park. At home against righties, Carter has hit for a wOBA of .350 compared to just .302 against them on the road. Furthermore, he has hit for a .302 ISO against RHPs at home compared to just .177 on the road. There’s something about hitting at home that he thoroughly enjoys. While it’s certainly possible he finishes with a zero, the upside is great enough to punt with him in GPPs.
Scooter Gennett, Brewers, $7,200 – Unlike Carter, Scooter Gennett is on the favorable side of DeSclanfani’s substantial splits. While DeSclafani has dominated righties, left-handers have had their way against him: 11 HRs (out of 15 total), .313/.346/.525 slash line with a .366 wOBA (128 percentage points higher than right-handers). Any left-hander who cracks the lineup is in play but Gennett is the best combination of skill set and price tag. Additionally, he has produced at least five fantasy points in six of his last seven games included at least three games of 19-plus fantasy points during that stretch.
Yuli Gurriel, Astros, $6,400 – With Vegas implying the Astros to score 5.0 runs, Yuli Gurriel continues to be the most affordable way to get a share of this solid offense. Playing at home, the short left field porch is conducive to HRs especially for RHHs. In a limited sample size (11.1 career IP), probable starter Alex Meyer has allowed a .367 wOBA to RHHs and a 9.35 ERA on the road overall. The kid is talented but it’s unlikely he makes it out of this start unscathed. Gurriel was one of the best hitters in Cuba and his skill set has translated to a .302/.328/.460 slash line versus RHP so far. Start him.
T.J. Rivera, Mets, $5,200 – Last but not least, T.J. Rivera has been a magic man for the Mets over the course of the last week or so. In his last eight games (all starts), Rivera has not goose egged and has produced five-plus fantasy points six times during that span. On four occasions, Rivera has managed double-digit fantasy points since Sep. 13 and he is priced like an absolute scrub. Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson has been tougher on RHHs but has also allowed 13 HRs (out of 24 total) to them. At this price point, combined with his excellent recent results, you really cannot go wrong.